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MobiFone IPO puts internation focus on Vietnam

The Vietnamese government’s proposed IPO for state operator MobiFone has reportedly attracted significant international attention from heavyweight players.

In particular, Norwegian group Telenor is believed to be interested in taking a controlling stake in the operator – the Vietnamese number two – as a means of launching its own services.

MobiFone’s former partner Comvik International Vietnam has also reportedly expressed interest to the country’s Ministry of Information and Communication.

The Vietnamese government abandoned plans for an IPO back in 2006 despite interest from SingTel, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Orange (formerly France Telecom). The latter group is reportedly still interested in a holding.

A MobiFone director has confirmed that talks with potential overseas partners are already underway. Key criteria for the talks include financial capacity, technology, expertise, and experience of governance.

In June this year, MobiFone was separated from fellow state-owned operator VNPT and given the rest of the year to submit a plan for an IPO. The operator has been valued at around $3.4 billion by Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corporation.

MobiFone had 40.7 million connections at the end of Q3 2014, behind Viettel (56.2 million connections) but well ahead of Vinaphone (21.4 million).